The British Consulate in Berlin today issued an appeal in the German media in a bid to trace the County Durham pensioner who disappeared in the capital a week ago.

Dressed in cowboy gear 70-year-old John Thomas Hedley, from the former mining community of Murton, went missing after being dropped off by a holiday company in the German city centre at 11am last Friday.

Mr Hedley, who was wearing a stetson-style hat, brown suede jeans, a tan waistcoat and silver sheriff's badge was last seen leaving a McDonald's restaurant in the German capital.

And yesterday a rumour began to circulate that the elderly loner, who regularly travelled by himself on holiday, had been traced to Poland.

But a spokesman at Durham police headquarters said there was no truth in the rumour and confirmed that neither the police or Mr Hedley's family had heard anything of his wherabouts.

"It appears to have been nothing more than a rumour which has circulated from person to person.''

But he also confirmed that the search for Mr Hedley had been stepped up with the British Consulate's decision to issue a press release to the German media in a bid to track him down.

Interpol is also involved in attempting to trace Mr Hedley, known to his friends as "Tot'' and who failed to show up at the Bahnhof Zoo railway station at the 2pm appointed time a week past Friday.

Although he is described as a loner, police say his disappearance is totally out of character.

Anyone with information regarding Mr Hedley's wherabouts are asked to contact police on 08458 6060365.